Haguruka, along with RLMUA (Rwanda Land Management and Use Authority) and in partnership with Lantmateriet (funded by SIDA, the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency), is implementing a project entitled “Capacity Development in Land Administration” in Ngoma District. This project aims to raise awareness of citizens about land law, using community dialogues throughout citizen forums: “Inteko z’abaturage”. From May 2018, all 14 sectors of Ngoma District have been covered by the project.
In all those sectors more than three thousand people have participated in community dialogues. The main topics that were discussed are these related to: the necessity of land registration in order to obtain certificates of land title; equal rights to land for men and women; rights to transfer land; and the requirement for prior consent to transfer land. During the discussion, citizens were very engaged. Most did not previously have much information about land law, were not aware of their rights and did not know the processes for registering their land.
Alphonse Biziyaremye, a participant from Gashanda sector, said: “Before attending this community dialogue we believed that a husband had supreme power over family property, but now we have come to understand that both the wife and husband have equal rights and obligations in the management of family property resulting from land”.
Most challenges identified during the community dialogues were based on misunderstandings and cultural beliefs. Hagaruka’s lawyer said: “In Zaza sector for instance, we encountered a problem of men buying lands in other sectors, and not wanting their wives to be aware of that”.
Participants also highlighted issues related to illegal marriage, which may result in women being unaware of their husband’s property. Another issue commonly encountered was the false belief that men are only ones with a right to the family’s land or legacy.
Through this project, Hagaruka has raised awareness on all these issues and it has brought change to the community. Ngoma’s citizens now understand that married men and women have equal rights to the family legacy, both in terms of management and in terms of taking decisions on how it may be used.